Coolsculpting vs. EMsculpt – Similar Name, Same Results?

Woman confidently shows off her slim curves in bikini after fat elimination treatments in Atlanta

Remember when they told us there was no solution to spot reducing stubborn fat, bulges, “back rolls,” and that double chin? Remember when you’d walk into a gym and think ordering a six-pack meant the same thing you mastered in college and realized it wasn’t as easy? And yet, despite the naysayers, at one point or other, we’ve all hoped the endless crunches and an honest go with the Thighmaster would magically handle the soft middle that stood in the way of our swimsuit-ready washboard. Guilty.

But times have changed. With greater knowledge of the body, our lifestyles, and advances in science, we are in what some may consider the Golden Age of Dermatology – a rich period of advanced technology, skilled and committed professionals, and patients who are not only aware and educated about their options, but for whom skincare is no longer a second thought – or no thought at all. We want to better ourselves, and while all procedures require commitment and hard work, the payoff is miles ahead of what could have been done only a few short years ago.

Two examples of these advances are non-surgical, FDA-approved treatments called CoolSculpting and EMSculpt. One is designed to spot-reduce and eliminate trouble areas with little to no discomfort over your lunch break, while the other can chisel your physique and get you on your way to that six-pack in about thirty minutes. These cutting-edge treatments have taken the health and beauty industries by storm.

First, it’s important to remember that these technologies are best utilized when the patient has reached an optimal weight. And not just a number on the scale, but rather a stabilized weight and the lifestyle commitment and mindset to maintain that weight. These treatments target particular pockets of fat and muscle areas. Changes in weight alter the fat cell makeup and can obscure the targeted muscle, negating the time and investment to take this next step. Bluntly said, CoolSculpting and EMSculpt are not weight loss tools. They are the icing on the cake when you’ve reached your ideal – and steady – weight range.

While both are target-specific — reducing or “toning,” — they couldn’t be more different.  Let’s break them down.


Cool sculpting is the FDA-approved treatment that uses targeted cooling to freeze those tough spots that don’t seem to get better even with concerted diet and exercise. The areas referred to are what some of us call muffin tops, bra fat, chin fat, or everyone’s favorite – love handles. Using a technology known as cryolipolysis, CoolSculpting distributes cold in precisely calibrated temperatures that target subcutaneous fat cells. The technology is so precise that it does not harm the skin or the surrounding muscles and nerves. Once frozen, the fat cells are crystallized and broken down over time. Essentially, they are rendered “dead” or damaged. The body has a natural reaction of removing damaged cells in a process known as apoptosis. Over several weeks, the cells are then excreted from the body. Once the cells are removed, they are gone for good. However, many are under the wrong impression that one cannot gain weight in those areas again. By deviating from a healthy diet and exercise lifestyle, the remaining cells in that area can get larger, as they would before.

Because this is a non-invasive procedure, there is no downtime, and the most discomfort is from a pulling or suction sensation when the treatment is in progress. This is heightened if you are sensitive to pain or if you are more overweight. On average, you’ll need to stay in treatment for no more than an hour. Post-procedure you may feel soreness and mild discomfort.


While sounding similar, EMSculpt is another body contouring procedure, but instead of targeting and freezing fat cells, EMSculpt uses HIFEM – high intensity focused electromagnetic energy to focus on fat and muscle, which, when treated by a skilled technician, can offer a very chiseled and contoured look, sometimes unattainable with routine time put into the gym.

EMSculpt stimulates the muscles. These are called supramaximal contractions – exceptionally intense waves that work your muscle as if you were in a superhero’s personal training session. One half-hour session of EMSculpt can be the equivalent of 20,000 crunches or 20,000 squats, depending on which area of the body is targeted. And with this intense treatment, the muscles are worked so intensely that the body begins to respond and change its shape quickly. The EMSculpt appointment takes less than 30 minutes, and patients can expect a typical package to include four treatments.

Differences between the two treatments:

  • At the core (pun intended), CoolSculpting targets fat pockets, rolls, and bulges that won’t reduce even with the best dietary and exercise intentions. On the contrary, EMSculpt primarily targets muscle and, in turn, creates a sculpted, toned physique.
  • Another difference between the two is the treatment pacing. CoolSculpting requires spacing between appointments, sometimes months apart. EMSculpt has patients coming in for treatments approximately 2-to-3 days apart. These treatments can also often be completed within weeks, and results can be seen as soon as four weeks. With CoolSculpting, the body must break it down and discard the damaged cells over months. These treatments can be used together, and your dermatologist will discuss how best to approach this.
  • Which areas of the body are best suited by each technology? If we’re talking about fat, CoolSculpting is best suited for things like stomach fat; love handles, back fat and bra fat, flabbiness on the upper arms, double chin, and even the area under the buttocks. EMSculpt, on the other hand, is FDA approved for specific areas because of the technology and the shape of the machine. Those “20,000 crunches” target abs, and those “20,000 squats” do wonders for the legs and the bottom. The biceps and triceps can also be targeted.
  • Both technologies should be employed for the best results when you are close to your target weight and have cemented some good lifestyle habits. While CoolSculpting is approved for those with some excess weight, the results will be less than ideal – or not work – if your weight is fluctuating. EMSculpt, on the other hand, is perfect for those already in good shape but seeking specific toning.

It sounds like these technologies are what 1990s dreams are made of. There was a time when no matter how much hard work, determination, and sacrifice one made, certain body areas could not be changed without invasive cosmetic procedures. Both CoolSculpting and EMSculpt have changed the landscape of dermatological procedures and offer patients a new lease on how they see themselves. For many, this is more than a fix; it is the reward for getting to — and maintaining – a healthy body and lifestyle.

Our Locations

North Atlanta Dermatology has five locations around Northern Atlanta to serve you.

Duluth Office

3850 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, Georgia 30096

Suwanee Office

3370 Paddocks Pkwy.
Suwanee, GA 30024

Hamilton Office

3331 Hamilton Mill, Suite 1106
Buford, GA 30519

Cumming Office

1230 Bald Ridge Marina Rd., Suite 300
Cumming, GA 30041

Marietta Office

1519 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 175
Marietta, GA 30062